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need help for teen daughter

I am so happy to find this group! I have 5 children. The 2 oldest are by birth and the 3 youngest are adopted through foster care. The older 2 are out of the house and on their own. I have an almost 18 year old daughter, 17 year old son, and 14 year old daughter at home. We have had all 3 since they were infants.Within the last year or so the oldest girl has started really acting out. She has sent nude pics to guys, drank alcohol, smoked pot, and has had sex with guys she really wasn’t in a relationship with at least twice. The last boy has been verbally abusive with her. She did talk to a school counselor recently when the abuse got worse. The counselor called me in. Nothing has changed in our daily lives in the last year that I can see causing such changes. She is black and we are white and i do believe that is part of the issue. That and just the fact that she is adopted. Has anyone else experienced this kind of behavior in their child? Please, what helped? What didn’t?


I don’t have any experience with this as my oldest is 10.  I’m so sorry, I can imagine the heartbreak.  If it were me (take it with salt because I don’t really know yet), I might consider telling her if she continues to make these poor choices you’ll no longer shelter her from the consequences.  As in, she’s gonna have to find another place to live.

There is a great book that might help.  Not fix her, but help you cope and know someone else has been there and made it through.  It’s called “The Beauty of Broken”.  I HIGHLY recommend reading it.  The author has dealt with the same things you are, and she is a Christian.

Posted by housefrau on Jan 30, 2017 at 6:34pm

Oh, housefrau! I am in the middle of reading that book! I had picked it up at the library a few weeks ago and I almost forgot about it. I started reading it a few days ago and it is a blessing. I know God has great plans for all my kids. And maybe this is the route this one has to take to get where she has to go. It’s just so hard to sit back and watch and wait. She is talking to a counselor at school now. I am praying that has a bigger impact than I think it will… and that she will be truthful with the counselor. I can do tough love if it comes down to it. (I won’t like it, but can do it.) She graduates from high school this spring, so will see how she is doing then. I do have concerns about how her behavior is influencing her younger brother and sister, especially the brother. They are very close and she confides in him a lot. I have seen negative changes in him the last year or so also. He tends to be a follower and she is more the leader (at least between the 2 of them). He tells me he won’t touch drugs and isn’t “stupid,” but his sister would have said the same thing not so long ago.

Posted by lisamc on Jan 30, 2017 at 6:58pm

I too only have young ones so please take my thoughts with a grain of salt also.  Do you think she is acting out because she will be graduating this year and is panicking?  The senior year of high school can be very frightening.  I can’t imagine it would since you’ve had her since she was so young but maybe she is going through thoughts wondering if “home”  will always be home.

Also, about the sex, did she want you to find out about it?  Did she talk about it with you.  I have read that one of the biggest demographics of teenage pregnancy is in adopted girls (please don’t ask for reference on this because I have no idea where I read it)

Maybe all she needs is a reassurance that “yep, we’re your folks no matter how old you get”.  Other than that, I wish you luck.

Posted by RRB on Jan 30, 2017 at 7:07pm

It is very hard watching them go through it!  And you’re dragged along with them!  My 8 year old is the one with the problems at the moment; stealing, lying, bad behavior at school, some sexual acting out.  Like you said, I realize God can use all this and maybe this is even the path my son has to walk to bring him to God, but knowing that doesn’t always make it any easier!

Posted by housefrau on Jan 30, 2017 at 7:28pm

I am so sad to read this.  We have had our struggles as well - I am the adoptive mother of twins.  A boy and a girl who are now 11 and 2016 was a year that I hope to never repeat (pray all of the time for that).  What I have learned is sometimes the changes that trigger reactions are things that you never considered or considered to be a positive change.  To make a very long story short, my sweet, very attached daughter took off multiple times last year, with six of them resulting in a police search.  Initially it was triggered by changes (her brother’s growing attachment to me and a teacher she did not connect well with) but eventually it became “exciting” to have so much attention.  Finally, with the concurrence of our local police and the ER, we had to resort to tough love that was very painful for her, her brother, and me.  The positive news is that it worked - she is pushing again now in other ways which is frustrating, but at least the extremes are not happening and hopefully she will continue to learn that her actions have consequences.  Am happy to speak in more detail offline, but not sure how to pm through this website.  Best wishes and prayers on your journey.

Posted by Anne333 on Jan 30, 2017 at 10:07pm

RRB. I don’t think she wanted me to know what she was doing.She was lying about where she was and who she was with. And i have told her that there is nothing she can do that will keep me from loving her. I am sorry some of you have been or are going through similar things with your kids and some of them so young. I do thank you for all your responses. It really helps to know that others are in the same boat and there can be good endings from all this. housefrau, I, like you, think this may be the path she has to take. I’m just praying she gets through it and comes out better when it’s all said and done. It’s just so painful to watch in the mean time.

Posted by lisamc on Jan 31, 2017 at 3:17pm

Identity is a task of a teen. Adopted children have more problems with this. Also race in or country is a huge issue. It is all over the news so that might be triggering her as well.
Are there any groups in your area for transracially adopted or teens? Check all the adoption agencies and ask for help. Is she in counseling besides the school counselor? Does the school counselor have experience with adoption?
Keck wrote a book Parenting Adopted Adolescents: Understanding and Appreciating Their Journeys by Gregory C Keck [NavPress, 2009] (Paperback) that might be helpful.
IS there a history of alcohol or drug abuse in her birth family? Some of this could be she is more prone to addictions. I think AA has a group for teens.
There are loads of books re being adopted transracially. Would she read anything? Try for ideas.
She may be feeling sad re the losses of adoption and some people eat,drink, drug to dull the pain.
Have you read Sherrie Eldridge’s book Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew
Also Verrier’s Primal wound might help

Many children adopted as infants have issues as hey approach their 18th birthday. Many have been told over and over you can find/be with/ whatever your birth parents at 18 so feel forced to choose wether to search or not. She may want to and be afraid to tell you or may not be ready and is afraid she will have to.
Best of luck and keep supporting her she needs you now more than ever.

Posted by Regina on Jan 31, 2017 at 3:23pm

thank you, regina. lots of good points here and lot of resources in the books! i will start with some of these. thank you so much!

Posted by lisamc on Feb 01, 2017 at 2:16pm

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